With so many natural wonders and scenic sites to enjoy, it is a surprise that people have time to go shopping in Georgia. This should mean there are a number of cool shops and unique souvenir items to take home from this amazing country. The best souvenirs from Georgia are the Caucasian carpet, cloisonné enamel, traditional chokha, and a variety of handicrafts.
The country of Georgia is found in the Caucasus Mountain region where Asia and Europe converge. It is one of the countries that served as a stopover for ancient merchants who traveled along the Silk Road and engaged in early international trade. The region is not only known for its history, scenic mountains and the Silk Road, but also for the most exquisite authentic Caucasian carpets.
Foreign tourists come to shop for these carpets, although these hand-woven masterpieces are a bit pricey. The famed Caucasian carpet is often referred to synonymously with the Persian rug, which is also produced in the region. Each carpet represents the unique charm of Georgian artistry and culture.
In ancient times, Caucasian rugs were sold in the market center of Tbilisi because this was where the Silk Road caravans gathered. Through the centuries, the carpets reflected the national symbols, religion, history and traditions of Georgia and its neighboring countries, which include Armenia, Azerbaijan, Russia, Turkey, and Iran (Persia).
Today, tourists can find and purchase the most beautiful carpets anywhere in the city. There is no dearth of carpet retailers but tourists should make sure that their vendor has a license to sell and export.
Meanwhile, the most important piece of ornament is the cloisonné enamel. Cloisonné is an ancient technique of decorating metal or enamel bowls, figurines, statuettes, gems, and other ornamental items.
Almost always, an ancient culture is defined by its cloisonné. These are those colorful and artistic items with gold and silver inlays that often get dug up by archeologists and tell a ton about a long lost culture.
Ancient Georgian culture is not leaving anytime soon. But if it does, hand-made cloisonné enamel items will clearly reflect the beauty of the country and its exotic traditions. Much like the Caucasian carpet, cloisonné enamel pieces are sold in several shops around the capital city. The most common items are crosses, necklaces, rings, pendants, and earrings. For the serious buyers, there are also a number of stores in Tbilisi selling authentic antique cloisonné enamel from medieval times. Georgia is known to many as the motherland of cloisonné enamel.
Third is the well-loved chokha, a traditional cotton overcoat for men. In the past, these thick prestigious and stately overcoats were made from wool or camel hair and were very, very popular. If you were a Georgian man, you should have one. The wearing of a chokha subsided after the Russian Bolshevik took control of the country and became almost forgotten during the Soviet years. The fashion was revived only in 2010, and today more and more Georgians are wearing chokha on formal occasions. It is definitely a clothing item that tourists should buy and take home.
If still unsure what to buy in Georgia, the last items that should be on every shopper’s list are handicrafts and artsy souvenir items, which include embroidery, jewelry, ceramics, paintings, collectibles, T-shirts, fabric, and silk, as well as local wines and brandies.
Shopping in Georgia is best done in the shopping streets of Rustaveli and Chavchavadze Avenue. Most shops (malls, arts salons, tourist shops, antique shops) are open from Monday to Saturday 10.00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.